Granted, this isn’t the most important issue when it comes to social media, as I covered last week in 7 Ways Like Really Are Important in Social Media, but it’s something that will probably never change.
As a business; likes means social proof, this many people like your company, you’ve reached this many people in exposure, and more.
But, there has to be more than simple likes to constantly attract views, clicks, etc. There has to be a community, a group of loyal followers that make social media beneficial for business.
Building a community isn’t always easy. So hopefully today’s post will help you bring your followers together to build a fun place for you all to gather, communicate, and then have your business benefit.
1- Start With A Plan for Building Community
I know what you are going to say. Everyone says this, but what do they mean?
This really just means, you have to think about how you are going to reach people, get them to like you, be something they would want to like or follow and then, what in the world are you going to do with them once they do like you?
2- Find Your Future Followers- Where Are They Now?
Where do they already hangout on Facebook, what hashtags do they use on Twitter, what are their favorite blogs (where they comment)?
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Who do they follow on Google+, and whose pins are they repinning on Pinterest? If you are looking for B2B; what groups do they join on Linkedin?
These are the places you need to be, especially if you don’t have your own following and you want one. Start where they already interact, become one of them, get to know them, chat them up, exchange emails and skype names. s
3- Be Genuine, At First This is NOT About Getting Business
It’s exciting to meet people that can benefit from your services. You can tell from their Twitter profile they would be PERFECT for the service or product you offer. Here’s the problem, they don’t trust you.
If you immediately start introducing your business ideas, they assume that is all you want. Even when you don’t discuss business they know you want something, so my recommendation is to show they you WANT them in your community.
Talk up your industry, from dogs, to diapers, to the weather. Whatever your industry or niche is, talk about it, share your passion, tell them what you are trying to do with your community, and give them a reason to want to be involved.
4- Offer Something Unique In Your Community
As the owner or initiator of the community, you need to have a draw. Something needs to bring people to your community instead of where they already are, or in addition to where they already are. This needs to be something that excites passionate industry followers, gets them talking, and makes them want to visit.
The most common example of this is a community that offers every answer an industry might have, or pretty close to it. It’s one reason people continue visiting huge forums, huge fanpages, and popular blogs. They know and trust the information, and there is so much of it there.
If you are building a community, you don’t have the benefit of tapping into your huge audience to bring them over. You have to be more creative. It’s difficult to give you specific ideas that would work for this because I don’t know what industry you have, but I would say to start by asking yourself the following:
- How will I set my community apart from other similar communities?
- What makes my business different from others in the industry?
- What do my followers feel is missing in my industry?
- How can I give them what they need/want most?
This is going to be an investment, either time or money, but if you want a community, it’s the best way.
5- Be Active
It’s disheartening to stay active when you have few followers or a lack of participation in your community. But, it’s the only way to continue to build. Communities take time to reach more people, and get the level of participation that makes it fun and exciting. In the mean time, you have to stay active.
Keep posting, writing updates, and sharing things people will find interesting. Write your content like you have thousands of followers, and respond to every person who shows signs of life (ie: likes, comments, follows, shares, retweets, repins, +1′s, etc).
Think of this as you are pushing a boulder up a mountain, at some point you will reach the top and it will start rolling down the other side with no effort on your behalf. Just keep pushing.
6- Always Be Connecting
It takes a lot of time to get to know and connect with each and every follower, but in the beginning, it’s important to take every opportunity to connect with the people who take interest in what you have to offer. Seek them out, find out what is important to them, and do what you can to get them participating.
7- Make it Easy to Participate
The benefit of using social media to build a community is that so many people are already on Facebook, Twitter, etc. They already sign in to connect with others, making it easy for them to check in with you.
Having your own site, means providing them their own login, reminding them to participate, and having to incentivize them even more.
8- Ask People to Get Involved with Sharing & Promoting
As your community builds up a following, it’s OK to ask people to share it with others. The biggest issue here is you don’t want to do it too often. Don’t send out daily reminders asking them to share, and certainly don’t make it annoying.
Another idea is to give them an incentive (like points or recognition) for sharing. I recommend asking people to share once a week, call it a Saturday Share Shoutout!
9- Encourage Conversation
You want people to connect with each other and not just you. To do this, you can feature community questions, share tips you’ve gotten from participants, or introduce new followers to each other, and make recommendations for connections.
The more connections people have through your community, the more drawn they are to come back and participate.
10- Stay Fresh
This is just a reminder to add content to your community, make it fun with new ideas, and keep things fun. You can invite people for interviews and Ask Anything sessions.
You have to give the community something to look forward to, without making it feel like every new/interesting thing is just par for the course. Surprise them, introduce new features, retire things that aren’t bringing a draw; just Stay Fresh!!
How About You?
Have you built a community through social media? How did it benefit your business? What advice or tips would you offer others trying to do the same today? Tell me below!